Over the last 20 years research investigating self-talk in the context of sport has expanded rapidly enhancing our understanding of the construct. In the present article, we provide a brief historical review of the sports-oriented self-talk literature. In so doing we identify landmark investigations and review conceptual, research, and measurement themes present within the literature. We review this empirically based literature, distinguishing between three time periods: (1) the early foundations of self-talk research, up to the end of the 1990s; (2) the developmental years of systematic self-talk research during the 2000s; and (3) the modern day maturation of self-talk research, post-2011.
James Hardy, Nikos Comoutos, and Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis
Erika D. Van Dyke, Judy L. Van Raalte, Elizabeth M. Mullin, and Britton W. Brewer
Little research has explored the relationship between highly skilled athletes’ self-talk and their competitive performance over the course of a season. For the current study, positive, negative, motivational, instructional, and functional dimensions of collegiate gymnasts’ (N = 141) self-talk were assessed. The gymnasts’ competitive balance beam performances in intercollegiate meets were also recorded. Multiple regression analysis revealed that positive self-talk significantly predicted balance beam performance and performance consistency. Significant positive correlations were found among key self-talk variables, except negative self-talk. Significant negative correlations were found between negative self-talk and self-talk functions (i.e., attention, cognitive and emotional control, and confidence). The results highlight the interrelationships among various types and functions of self-talk in competitive settings, and provide evidence for the ways in which self-talk is related to the performance of highly skilled athletes. Suggestions for how these findings might be applied by athletes, coaches, and sport psychology practitioners are provided.
Emily Kroshus and J.D. DeFreese
Athlete burnout is an important psychological health concern that may be influenced by coach behaviors. Participants were 933 collegiate soccer coaches who described their utilization of burnout prevention strategies. Deductive content analysis was used to categorize and interpret responses. The most frequently endorsed prevention strategies involved managing/limiting physical stressors. Reducing nonsport stressors and promoting autonomy and relatedness were also endorsed. Motivational climate changes and secondary prevention strategies were infrequently reported. These findings can help inform the design of educational programming to ensure that all coaches are aware of the range of ways in which they can help prevent athlete burnout.
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Meghan S. Ingstrup, Amber D. Mosewich, and Nicholas L. Holt
The purpose of this study was to explore factors that contributed to the development of self-compassion among highly self-compassionate women varsity athletes. More specifically, the research question was: how did women varsity athletes with high self-compassion perceive they became self-compassionate? To purposefully sample participants, 114 women varsity athletes completed the Self-Compassion Scale (Neff, 2003b). Ten athletes with high self-compassion scores then participated in individual interviews and a follow-up second interview. Data were analyzed using interpretive phenomenological analysis (Smith & Osborn, 2003). Analysis produced three main themes that contributed to the development of self-compassion: (a) role of parents (seeking and receiving help from parents, parents teaching self-kindness, parents putting experiences in perspective); (b) gaining self-awareness; and (c) learning from others (peers, siblings, coaches, sport psychologists). These findings provide insights into the ways in which self-compassion can be learned and taught, and have implications for practitioners who work with women athletes.
Joanne E. Perry, Michael Ross, Jeremiah Weinstock, and Terri Weaver
Research has supported mindfulness as a predictor of athletic success. This study used a parallel trial design to examine the benefit of a brief one-session mindfulness training for performance on an individual, nonpacing, closed skill athletic task (i.e., golf putting). All participants (N = 65) answered questionnaires and engaged in two trials of the putting task. Participants were randomly assigned to an intervention or control group using a simple randomization strategy. Between trials, the intervention group received a mindfulness intervention. Mindfulness intervention included psychoeducation, reflection upon previous sport experiences, an experiential exercise, and putting applications. Repeated-measures ANOVAs demonstrated that the intervention group exhibited more successful outcomes on objective putting performance, flow state experience, and state anxiety (p < .05). Results suggest mindfulness may prevent performance deterioration and could produce psychological benefits after a brief training session.
Stacy L. Gnacinski, William V. Massey, Courtney W. Hess, Mellanie M. Nai, Monna Arvinen-Barrow, and Barbara B. Meyer
To enhance the specificity of psychological skills training (PST) interventions, the purpose of the current study was to examine stage of change and gender differences in the combination of transtheoretical model (TTM) constructs (i.e., decisional balance pros and cons, self-efficacy, cognitive and behavioral processes of change) among collegiate student-athletes. Participants (N = 602) completed all TTM measures, and a factorial multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was conducted to examine the effects of stage of change and gender on the combination of TTM constructs. No significant interaction effect was identified, yet significant main effects of stage of change and gender were identified. Post hoc tests revealed unique linear combinations of decisional balance, self-efficacy, and processes of change for each stage of change contrast. Taken together, study findings may be used to enhance the specificity of behavior change interventions when delivering PST programs to both male and female collegiate student-athletes.